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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Wildcats’ offense needs to come alive

    UA guard Jhakia McDonald works her way toward the hoop in a 54-44 loss to then-No. 7 Texas A&M in McKale Center on Nov. 25. The Wildcats will play eight games over the winter break.
    UA guard Jhakia McDonald works her way toward the hoop in a 54-44 loss to then-No. 7 Texas A&M in McKale Center on Nov. 25. The Wildcats will play eight games over the winter break.

    As the year 2008 comes to its end, the Arizona women’s basketball team is at a turning point in its season.

    With a brand new coach and many new faces, the Wildcats have undergone a complete program makeover. The first few months of head coach Niya Butts’ tenure have been nothing short of spectacular. The future of the program has a limitless ceiling and all of those around the program are well aware of that fact.

    But the future is just that: it isn’t now. While many freshmen will enjoy the ride of success that is sure to come, the careers of key players – senior forwards Amina Njonkou and Sarah Hays – are playing against a ticking clock.

    When Butts stepped on campus after being hired, she made it clear that her team would pride itself on hustle and stout defense, and both of those elements have been successful so far for the Wildcats. A typical UA practice this season features endless amounts of running, and it has translated well into competition as Arizona can run with the best of them and uses its conditioning and impenetrable defense to keep opposing offenses on their heels.

    But if the team has carried out Butts’ keys to victory, then why are they 3-4 and in the midst of a three-game losing streak?

    The answer is simple: The offense has been completely absent.

    In their 63-59 loss to Louisiana Tech, the Wildcats shot just 22.9 percent from the floor. While the defense has been superb, it is extremely difficult for a basketball team at any level to play consistent defense if the offense isn’t there to help.

    Despite the struggles, though, it is not quite time to panic. The next four games on the schedule will serve as a strong indicator of what type of season Arizona will have. Four straight non-conference games against San Diego, Long Beach State, UC Riverside and Boise State are the final tune-ups for the Wildcats before the treacherous Pacific 10 Conference schedule starts.

    Those four games are “”must-wins,”” and the team knows it.

    “”(The season) hasn’t gone great so far, but we’re heading in the right direction,”” said freshman guard Courtney Clements. “”(The team) is excited that we still have four games before the (Pac-10) season starts. We still have a chance to do some things and improve on the mistakes we’ve made so far.””

    Clements, who spent most of the preseason and the first few games of the regular season on the injury list, will be a key contributor on offense.

    This Wildcat team is much more talented than people may realize, especially those who voted it to finish dead last in the Pac-10. The low ranking has been used as a motivational tool for the Wildcats to prove themselves by the time conference play rolls around.

    “”We’re looking forward to Pac-10 play,”” Clements said. “”We’ll be ready for it.””

    And they better be since the first two conference games on the schedule are against California and Stanford, nationally ranked No. 9 and No. 3, respectively.

    – Tim Kosch is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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